MAWT Bowl-A-Thon

At the meeting Monday night I asked about interest in having our own “Bowl-A-Thon” – this event (or series of events) would involve members and friends coming into the basement at Woodcraft and turning one or more wooden bowls to donate to the Empty Bowls fund raiser. I was pleased with the positive response.

There are a number of hurdles to overcome before this could happen. The comments below are “stream of consciousness” thinking about what needs to be done to make this happen. Feel free to send an email or comment at the bottom of this post if you have thoughts in response.

Bowl Blank acquisition

  1. Think in terms of a 6 to 7 inch diameter by 3 inch deep bowl blank.
  2. A member has offered to donate a number (7 or so) segmented bowl blanks to get us started – these are ready to finish turn.
  3. If you have dry bowl blanks that you can donate let me know. If you have green or partially dried bowl blanks that you can donate, let me know.
  4. We need to acquire a number of bowl blanks – presumably of native woods*. If anyone is aware of a tree coming down that could be processed into bowl blanks, please bring that to our attention.
  5. How many bowl blanks do we need? If we had 5 people who turned 5 bowls each that would be 25. If we had 10 people who turned 4 bowls each that would be 40. So we could use between 25 and 50 blanks. Some could be taken home and turned by members at home.

Process – 

  • If we process our own bowl blanks from fresh native wood, we should think in terms of twice-turning the blanks. If you are unfamiliar – we would rough out the blanks to a wall thickness of 1/2 to 3/4 inch while wet, and then seal them and let them dry for several months. That could involve two separate sessions (If this became a yearly event, we could spend the first hour or two roughing out and the reminder of the time finish turning.) We would need a place to store the blanks while they are drying down.

Lathes – 

  • each lathe should be equipped with a live center, a drive center, a scroll chuck, a knock-out bar, a face shield and a light. If a member has a favorite drive center or jamb chuck, they are welcome to bring their own equipment. Members should bring their own breathing protection.

Turning – 

  • Members would bring their own turning tools. If guests want to try to make a bowl, make arrangements beforehand for the use of tools and a person to guide them. This event is not intended to be a training session, although we should have some experienced turners there to guide those who need it.

Sanding – 

  • We would need to be able to contain our sanding dust. Can we borrow the Guild’s dust collector and route it to at least a couple of the lathes? We can use MAWT’s vacuum for one of the lathes.
  • We could wet sand the bowls which would help to reduce sanding dust. This involves an application of the finishing oil (presumably walnut oil or something similar) to the bowl before and during sanding.

Set-up and clean-up –

  • Some people would be needed to set up the lathes and make sure they are ready to go. We also would need a clean-up crew to sweep up and get the chairs and tables back into their places.

Things the Club may need to purchase –

  • Sanding disks/sand paper
  • Green wood sealer
  • Food safe finish
  • Face Masks – for breathing protection
  • Lunch (?)


* Acceptable species in somewhat descending order of preference

  • Cherry
  • Pear
  • Black Walnut
  • Sugar (Hard) Maple
  • Ash
  • White oak (Burr Oak)
  • BIrch
  • Sycamore (American Plane Tree)
  • Elms (red, American, Siberian, Chinese)
  • Catalpa
  • Silver maple or other soft maple
  • Boxelder
  • Honey Locust
  • Black Locust
  • Hickory/pecan
  • Mulberry



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